Croydon mum driving creation of renters’ union to help tenants needing support

A Croydon mum of two is joining forces with activists to build a renters’ union after she claims she was evicted twice in a year.

Rachel Krengel, 31, described the first case as a ‘revenge’ eviction because she asked for basic repairs to the property.

She said: “The place was falling apart – it had started to pose an actual threat to everyone’s health and safety.”

Ms Krengel claimed water was pouring out of live electrical fittings, tiles were falling off the wall, the light no longer worked, the carpet was plagued with constant damp, and the landlord refused to do anything about it.

She added: “We tried desperately to call it in, showing it to the property inspectors and everything we could do.

“The first action they took was to evict us.”

The second eviction was a result of a dispute over future plans for her rental home.

“We were a family with children, and we didn’t want a one-year let, we wanted a home,” she said.

A Section 21 notice gives landlords the right to evict tenants without offering any reason, which campaigners say can be unfair to tenants.

Ms Krengel is driving the creation of a renters’ union, because she says the only reason she got through her ordeal was an ‘amazing’ support network who were able to help her with the stresses and difficulties of moving house.

SUPPORT: The renters’ union will include regular rent parties.

She said: “Not everybody has that, and one of the things we really want to do with the renters’ union is to be that support network for people who don’t have it.

“We’ve got a little bit of money, and if you can’t afford a moving van, we’ll buy one for you.

“If you’re struggling constantly to pay your rent because your housing allowance is £200 below your rent is – which is a bare minimum these days – we can top it up for a couple of months.

“And in that time, we’ll sit with you and figure out discretionary housing benefit forms, and ways that you can pay it through a more sustainable way – when you need to move at short notice, we’ll help you.”

According to homeless charity Shelter, there were 5,762 homeless people in the London Borough of Croydon in 2018.

Labour Councillor Niroshan Sirisena said: “Part of the Labour Party manifesto in Croydon was the commitment to create the ground for an independent renters’ union to become established here.

REVOLUTION: Councillor Niroshan Sirisena DJs at the rent party.

“You’ve got people renting in substandard accommodation, tiny accommodation, overheated accommodation, so there’s an absolute need for a renters’ union in Croydon.

“The renters’ revolution is happening, and the renters’ revolution starts here in Croydon.”

Organisers hope regular rent parties will be hosted every other month.

Festure image credit: Abu Khan.

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